Yabuta Shrine is designated as Engishikinaisha (higher-ranked shrines listed under the Engishiki). It was already listed in the Engishiki log created from 905 to 927 AD. The god of the shrine is Oonamura no Mikoto.
Held on the second Sunday of July.
The Shinto rites start at 7:00 PM after a triangular turret adorned with 21 paper lanterns is assembled and placed in front of the worship hall.
Following the rites, children dressed in yukata carry paper lanterns and gather to worship. Afterwards, they enjoy fireworks. The festival began as a ceremony to comfort the spirits of the dead. It was intended to prevent crops from being ruined by pests and to stop the spread of diseases during this time of year. Previously, each family would light a quantity of lanterns corresponding to the number of family members, hang them from a bamboo branch, and participate in a parade leading to the shrine grounds.
Held on the first Sunday of October.
The Yunohana rites are performed at the Spring Festival and Autumn Festival. In the Yunohana rite, a priest encloses a hearth with sacred ropes and bamboo and boils water in an iron pot. After ritual prayer are read by the chief priest, the boiled water is offered to the god. The Yunohana-uji parishioner soaks bamboo grass in the boiling water and purifies himself. Next, the parishioner sprinkles hot water mist on worshippers with the bamboo grass two times. While being enveloped by the mist, worshippers pray for the well-being of their families, health and safety, and bountiful harvest. After that, at the Naorai party, participants share round rice cakes offered to the shrine’s god along with the god’s rice wine. Previously, the Yunohana-uji parishioner took home the sacred water, and the bamboo was fed to live stock and placed in fields to pray for a bountiful harvest.
Held on the second Sunday in November.
Parishioners offer the god 1 sho (approx. 1.5 kg) of rice harvested during the year to give thanks for the rice harvest and to pray for a bountiful harvest for the next year. Worshippers arrive at 2:00 PM.
After worshippers present divine gifts to the Shinto god and the ceremony has been completed, participants share the god’s rice wine at the Naorai party.
December 31 to January 2
On December 31, worshippers make offerings of round rice cakes wrapped in calligraphy paper and mandarin oranges. They also light votive candles to express their gratitude for the past year. Worshipers come to offer votive candles and prayers during the three-day period from January 1 to 3. In the past, oil was poured into a small dish and wicks were lit to burn as a votive lamps.
Held on the second Sunday in February.
Two tons of sand is spread out in the shrine grounds, making it resemble a rice paddy field, and then traditional methods of plowing the field and planting rice saplings are reenacted. This ritual (Ta-uchi) is held in the evening on the day of Kinen-sai. Following a document called the “Mikuwa List,” each of the tasks that the volunteer caretakers of the shrine must undertake during the year is recited and a series of preparations for the festival proceed. Children gathered in the shrine grounds use paddles made from Japanese snowflower to throw sand on a paper-mâché horse. If the horse is hit with enough sand to make it fall down, it means the harvest will be bountiful.
Held on the second Sunday of March.
Originally, the festival was a shrine ceremony held on the first day of the horse of March. Presently, it is held on the second Sunday of the month. Parishioners who are in their unlucky years (ages 19 and 37 for women; ages 25, 42, and 61 for men in kazoedoshi (the traditional Japanese system of calculating age)) lay a 1-sho quantity (approx. 1.5 kg) of rice on a tray, place round rice cakes (approx. 6 kg for age 42 and approx.. 3 kg for others) on top of the rice, and then dedicate the items to the shrine together with a prayer fee.
After the prayer, worshippers receive talismans of the prayer and the lower part of the round rice cakes. Worshippers divide the rice cakes into pieces and distribute them to their neighbors and relatives.
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